Johnny Cueto silences Twins' bats as Reds end four-game losing streak
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CINCINNATI --Johnny Cueto remained unbeaten in June by pitching seven innings and driving in a pair of runs with a squeeze bunt and a bases-loaded groundout on Saturday, leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 6-0 victory over the Minnesota Twins at Great American Ball Park.
The Reds ended their season-high losing streak at four games.
Cueto (9-3) gave up only three hits and struck out a season-high nine while improving to 4-0 in four June starts. The righthander has given up only five runs for a 1.47 ERA this month. Scott Rolen had two more hits and scored on Cueto's squeeze bunt and groundout.
"I think you all saw it," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Cueto's performance. "The deception, the pitch, the mix that he has. The fastball jumps pretty good, he back doors the breaking ball pretty well and he's got a great changeup.
"With that mix, he gave them a little bit of a lead there. He was tough. We made him work early, made him throw some pitches. But as it went along we never could really could come up with any big hits against him or put anything together. As advertised, good stuff."
Brandon Phillips got the Reds started with a two-run homer off Twins starter Brian Duensing in the fourth inning.
Duensing made his first start since last Sept. 24. He'll get a chance to stay in the rotation for a while. The lefthander had no problems in the first three innings, then came apart in the fourth.
After Phillips hit his 10th homer off the batter's eye, Jay Bruce singled and came around on Rolen's double to right. Rolen continued to third on the play, which ended Duensing's outing.
Rolen scored on Cueto's bunt to reliever Anthony Swarzak, who could have gotten Rolen in a rundown but never looked at him. Instead, he threw to first for the out as Rolen scored for a 4-0 lead.
The third baseman and pitcher got another run across in the sixth, when the Reds loaded the bases on Rolen's single, Scott Frazier's double and an intentional walk to catcher Ryan Hanigan with one out. Swinging away this time, Cueto grounded out to drive in Rolen.
The 37-year-old third baseman missed 34 games because of a sore left shoulder. In five games since his return, Rolen has gone 7-for-18 with three multi-hit games.
Phillips' two-run shot provided the Reds with all the offense they needed.
The Twins kept a close watch on Duensing's pitch count because he has spent this season coming out of the bullpen. He finished with 63 pitches before being removed after facing four batters and not getting an out in the Reds' four-run fourth.
"We were watching (his pitch count) as close as we possibly could," Gardenhire said. "The homer and then another couple of hits. He was right at that 50-to-60 pitch mark and you could see that it looked like it flattened out just a little bit on him.
"That's expected. We're trying to stretch him out, get his pitch counts up there. You just didn't know when it was going to happen but he was throwing the ball really well. The first few innings he used all of his pitches, his breaking ball, his changeup was good and he was throwing the ball pretty good."
• After pinch-hitting in the sixth inning on Friday, Joe Mauer started Saturday at first base. He had been out of the lineup for four games because of a bruised right quadriceps.
• Matt Capps pitched the eighth inning for the Twins. The closer had been sidelined since June 15 because of a sore right shoulder.
• 6: Times the Twins have been shutout this season.
• 8: Errors for Plouffe this season. Plouffe has become the Twins' every day third baseman.
• 61: Consecutive games with at least one homer at Great American Ball Park, the longest active streak in the majors. Phillips' homer was the 96th given up by the Twins, most in the majors
• Sunday: @ Cincinnati, 12:10 pm. Twins LHP Scott Diamond (5-3, 2.57 ERA) vs. Reds RHP Mike Leake (2-5, 4.70).
• Monday: vs. Chicago White Sox, 7:10 p.m. Twins LHP Francisco Liriano (1-7, 5.74) vs. White Sox RHP Jake Peavy (6-3, 2.74).
• Tuesday: vs. Chicago White Sox, 7:10 p.m. Twins RHP Liam Hendriks (0-4, 7.39) vs. White Sox RHP Gavin Floyd (5-7, 5.20).